New Shopping Behaviors Leading to Voice

Over the last 3 months as the world has been managing COVID-19, new shopping behaviors have accelerated. The ecommerce space in particular has continued to see large growth and is now ahead of schedule by several years in terms of penetration as a percentage of total retail sales. We believe voice will play a critical role in making mobile shopping transactions easier and faster for consumers in the coming years. Last week’s voice assistant announcement from Flipkart provides an initial view of how major ecommerce platforms are committing to the technology. As we emerge into the ‘new normal,’ behaviors such as click and collect and contactless shopping will surely be aided by new interfaces such as voice. 

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Voice-Led Shopping

Flipkart, the Walmart-owned Indian ecommerce company, is launching a voice assistant to augment their platform. Currently focused on the supermarket and grocery space, TechCrunch shares that “the feature allows users to explore deals and offers, filter results, add multiple items to carts, receive contextual suggestions and check out using conversational voice commands.” With voice search usage growing in the nation, there is strong belief from the company that voice-enabled shopping will be a valuable feature for shoppers. However, Flipkart will continue facing competition from Amazon who has continued their own efforts in India including developing Hindi language support for Alexa devices. More on TechCrunch.

OK Beeb, Time to Launch

When we last checked in on Beeb, the BBC had declared an intention for their voice assistant to be an owned entity not relying on Amazon or Google. Now, they have launched an initial version of the assistant accessible in the UK through Microsoft’s Windows Insider program.  The assistant, built using Microsoft Azure AI technology, currently allows users to access BBC radio, podcasts, and programs as well as request news headlines and the weather. While not as robust as other assistants, Beeb is focused on the BBC listener audience exclusively. Their primary efforts have been around protecting privacy and transparently collecting transcript data in order to better identify and understand the variety of UK accents of their users. More on VentureBeat.

Snap’s Voice-Enabled Lenses

Snapchat has ventured into the world of voice and launched a new feature called voice scan. Voice scan allows users to use voice commands to search for and request “lenses” for their content. As an example, Snap provided the use case of a user asking the app to “make my hair pink” and then the app would automatically find a filter and lens that overlays pink hair onto the user’s selfie. Aside from Facebook’s portal, this is one of the first major voice-enabled ventures from a social networking company— a trend we expect to continue. More on Mashable.

Stats Don’t Lie

95% U.K. families who say it’s important that a voice app be from a brand they know.  (data from Voxly Digital via RetailDive)

34 MM hours spent binge listening to podcasts in 2019 (data via Stitcher)

Chart of the Week

Parks Associates: Top Triggers for Purchasing Smart Home Devices
(Parks Associates)